Families finally hear disturbing details of killings

06/28/2005 12:00 AM

03/27/2012 11:02 AM

For the first time, the families of the people killed by a once-faceless killer heard the terrible details — from BTK himself, Dennis Rader.

Some of them attended the hearing at the Sedgwick County Courthouse, where Rader pleaded guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder and described the killings for District Judge Greg Waller.

Others heard Rader's story on television or learned after the fact what had happened.

And although they got answers to questions that have haunted them for years, one family member, in particular, isn't accepting what Rader said.

Charlie Otero, whose parents and youngest brother and sister were Rader's first victims, still doubts that Rader acted alone, as Rader said he did.

How, Otero wondered, could Rader have tied up his father while also holding a gun on him?

"My father was a street fighter" — a champion boxer who grew up in New York's Spanish Harlem, said Otero, speaking from his home in Albuquerque on Monday night.

"If he had half a chance, he would have made a move. My dad would have done something."

Because he had to work, Otero didn't see the live broadcast of the hearing and later heard only snippets of Rader's description of the crimes.

Otero said he feels Rader is lying, and it frustrates him.

"I'm not going to get the answers."

Still, Otero said he was pleased the killer was caught and that people around Wichita no longer have to live in fear of a roaming, taunting killer.

Another victim's family member, Jeff Davis, said he was emotionally drained by Monday's hearing.

"It was very distressing. It was very difficult," said Davis, whose mother, Dolores Davis, was murdered by Rader in 1991.

Jeff Davis, who lives in Memphis, listened to Rader from his office.

Rader told Waller he threw a concrete block through Davis' back window, put her in handcuffs, "calmed her down a little bit" and later tied her up before strangling her.

Although he found it draining to listen to Rader, "the worst news has yet to surface," Davis said.

He expects more details about his mother's death to come out at the sentencing hearing, set for Aug. 17.

Prosecutors intend to pursue the so-called Hard 40 sentence for the murder of his mother, meaning Rader would have to serve 40 years in prison before being eligible for parole.

Davis says nothing could keep him away from that hearing. "I've waited for the chance to stare him eye to eye in the courtroom."

Davis wasn't surprised that Rader pleaded guilty and avoided a trial.

"He didn't want all the dirty laundry out on the table for everyone to see.

"He knew they had him."

Even with Rader's guilty plea, the crimes remain an "open sore" for the victim's families, said District Attorney Nola Foulston.

She complained that Rader was receiving attention from the news media that should go instead to the families and the people who died.

But Foulston's office has pressured family members not to speak to journalists about the case.

Editor's Choice Videos

Join the Discussion

The Wichita Eagle is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Terms of Service